Economy, Money, Unemployment Files

Adventures in Unemployment


I figured I’d write about this topic since its taken on the form of a sitcom.

I could be writing about my awful, almost-in-tears-with-pain stomach virus that I contracted last Sunday but I won’t. All I’ll say is that I went to the doctor today, he confirmed it was  a virus, he prescribed me some medication, and I’ve gone from fearing food to wanting to eat everything I see. You know, to make up for lost time this past week. I’m fine and it’s getting better.

But let’s move on over to the topic at hand: Adventures in Unemployment.

I got my first claim form in the mail last week which stated that it should have been returned by 7/6/13. I got on 7/8/13. I figured that maybe there was a delay because of the 4th of July holiday and that they would take this into consideration when processing my claim. I can only hope because dealing with the EDD can be an…adventure.

Speaking of which, I wanted to register for their online unemployment claim center where recipients can submit their latest claims, update info, etc. While I would have loved to do this for the convenience factor (as well as avoid any processing delays), I couldn’t.

Here’s the thing. Despite doing my research with my previous employer and actually adding up the income of every quarter over the past two years, and that I had submitted a new claim (not related to my previous stint on unemployment), I never got a reward letter stating what I would be getting paid. In fact, it was clearly marked Continued Claim on the top of the letter I received but it had no other information other than what I needed to do next.

So as of now, I’m totally stumped as to what I will be getting. I’m thinking if they are going by the previous employer’s income, hence the Continued Claim, the checks will be about what I was making at my last job and that wouldn’t be bad. The problem is that I don’t know which it will be, and the reward amount is a requirement when registering to use the EDD’s online claim center. I tried a few amounts based on the income of both jobs as well as looking up the reward amount on the chart and neither of them worked. Then I thought I’d give the office a call to see what my reward amount really is.

I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.

I called and got the automated system which asks for your SSN as well as – you guessed it – reward amount. Again, I can’t do a damn thing about it except try to call back and get in touch with a carbon-based being. So I called back and listened carefully at all the options, none of which were “To speak to a representative, press [insert number of choice].” In fact, according to the recording, reps are only on the phones from 8-12 and are processing claim checks the rest of the day. Fine and well, but I called at 11:11 am and there isn’t an option that allows me to get a hold of one. No excuses why I shouldn’t get a hold of someone but alas, I didn’t and still have no idea what my check will be when it arrives. I’m prepared for a shock either way and quite certain that I’ll have to invest in a booklet of Forever stamps in order to keep getting my checks.

In addition to handing out checks and making them extremely difficult to get in the first place, the EDD also offers training for the unemployed so that they can learn a new skill and make themselves more attractive on the job market. I figured that I’m done with proofreading and wanted to try my hand at something, anything, that might strike my fancy since the market for proofreaders is extremely weak – weaker for someone like me without a degree.

So I gathered up some paperwork and drove down to the nearest One-Stop Career Center to get some more information on the training programs.

This was my first mistake. See, there are locations all over the place and I figured that going to the Cerritos office (4 miles from home) vs. the Long Beach office (6 miles from home) would be easier all the way around, right?

Wrong.

I waltzed into the office and was greeted – it was more like I annoyed her on her coffee break – by a female secretary of indeterminable race who spoke with a thick accent. She asked if I needed help and I told her my intentions.

“The training program is [sic] no available right now. There are no funding for programs.”

Verbatim. And I’m the one out of work? The guy who will be paying this woman’s pension?

Well, great. Just great. At a time when I want to transition into something different, the state can’t help. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by this.

As I stood there, chagrined and probably looking rather incredulous over what I was just told and how the state can afford to pay someone like this a decent salary, she then asked me where I lived since certain jurisdictions may still have funding. I told her where I lived.

“Oh, you need to go to Long Beach office anyway.”

Grrrr.

The next day I fight my way into the parking lot of the Long Beach One-Stop Center. Hoping for better luck, I walked in there feeling rather confident that I would accomplish something this time.

Then I remembered which state I live in.

There’s never a definitive, this-is-where-you-should-stand location at these offices. You tend to walk in and are approached by some malcontent who treats you as if you are trying to take away their hard-earned lobster harmonica they just won from the claw machine during their state-mandated 30-minute break. That was the case here.

A younger girl asked me if she could help. I asked about training once again, and then the excuses started to flow.

“We’re all full for the time being because, as you can see, the building is currently under construction and we have fewer people to accommodate.”

So not only was coming here a waste but so was her suggestion of going to the Torrance of San Pedro office for the paperwork, filling it out, then returning it to the Long Beach office on Monday.

I looked at her curiously and thought, “Wait. As if I’m not wasting enough gas, you want me to drive to either one of those locations for the paperwork then bring it back here on Monday, when it’s obvious that I can bypass driving all over Hell’s Creation and just show up here on Monday and do the same thing?” I could have but I didn’t want to confuse her.

She went on explaining the program and by then I had honestly cut her off. I stood there looking around the office at those who were already there for training. I felt like a total loser being in the company of backwards-cap-wearing nincompoops who had a case worker assigned to them in order to help them assess what they’d be good at, as if a fry cook requires such an assessment.

A case worker. Nothing makes you feel less human than having someone assigned to you whose intention is to help but whose stigma tells the world that you are less of a human being then most people.

I walked out of the office – and I’m determined not to go back.

I spent the rest of the week looking at various colleges offering two-year degrees in subjects that would interest me. I also hit the streets and pounded on the doors of many local and new businesses down here, most of whom were receptive to my plight and happily accepted my resume.

As of now, I’ve decided that state-funded training is not going to happen with me. Too many hoops, too much bullshit, too much for me to deal with when I can apply the credits I’ve already earned in my college years and put them toward schooling that won’t require me to step into an office full of dipshits and morons.

I will continue both job search and college search on Monday, when the Adventures in Unemployment will surely take on yet another life.

Stay tuned…

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